Posted by Editor on 11/15/07
Third Gold for Chalifour and Cloutier at PanAm Paracycling Championships
Visually impaired rider Daniel Chalifour of Mont-Laurier, Que., and his pilot Alexandre Cloutier of Quebec City earned a third gold medal Wednesday at the Pan American Open paracycling championships in Cali, Colombia. The pair won the tandem sprint final over Colombia to complete an undefeated performance.
In the team sprint, Jean Quevillon of Ste-Adèle, Que., (cerebral palsy), Mark Breton of Quebec City (LC1) and Éric Bourgault of Orford, Que., (LC2) took silver. China won the gold.
''There was a great atmosphere at the venue and it was very motivating for us to hear the crowd cheer, even if it was for the Colombians,'' said Chalifour. ''In the first round in the final, Alexandre had a great technical race. Our advantage was our acceleration. We showed this week we have a lot of potential particularly in the pursuit. These championships are the highlight of my sporting career so far.''
''Daniel has a great work ethic,'' said his coach Éric Van Den Eynde. ''He has talent and wants to capitalize on that. He's an exceptional guy. And Alexandre is very determined.''
In the team sprint, the Canadians broke the national record twice but it wasn't enough for the gold.
''They beat us by five seconds in the first race, which is a lot,'' said Breton.
''We knew they were very strong,'' added Quevillon.
Van den Eynde was impressed with the Canadian performances particularly this late in the season. ''It's a long season and the athletes worked hard,'' he said. ''I kept them motivated and we saw the results today (Wednesday). An international medal is possible for them even though I haven't got the best out of these guys yet.''
Following this week's results on the track, Van Den Eynde feels Canada could add a spot for the Paralympic Games. ''We are confirming seven spots and possibly an eighth.''
The number of spots for Canada at the Beijing Paralympics will be announced in mid-December.
Competition resumes Friday with the time trial on the road. All the riders who competed in the track events this week are scheduled to start except Chalifour and Cloutier. The Canadian tandem riders will be Stéphane Cøté and Pierre-Olivier Boily. Mark Beggs makes his championship debut in the hand cycling event.
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